Several malnourished horses continue to recover after they were seized from properties in Atlantic County, according to the SPCA.
The SPCA says they rescued eight horses from two properties in Mullica Township on July 12 and July 15. Animal cruelty experts believe the horses were neglected. Five people, including the owners of the animals, are now facing animal cruelty charges.
“They were starving them,” said Atlantic County SPCA President Nancy Beall. “They just weren’t feeding them adequately.”
“They were in pastures with nothing but sand and dirt,” said another official. “There was no grass.”
While the horses would normally eat twice per day, investigators say they're now being fed five times per day due to being so underweight. Cuervo, one of the rescued horses, only weighs 850 pounds when he should weigh around 1300.
“To see them in this state is really disgusting,” said Beall.
Beall tells NBC10 the horses likely would have died in another week or two if they hadn’t been rescued.
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“I think this is a disgrace,” said SPCA volunteer Margo Ferry. “This is our state animal.”
The owners of the animals know each other and at least one horse spent time at both addresses, according to investigators. The SPCA says they learned about the horses last month due to tips from neighbors and the owners themselves.
“They started infighting and one called about the other,” said Beall.
NBC10 went to both properties and questioned Jack Peterson, one of the people charged. Peterson denied that he starved the animals.
“Yes, I have nothing to say. Turn your cameras off,” said Peterson when asked if he fed the horses.
NBC10 also spoke to one of the owners by phone. He claimed he never neglected his horse and didn't even know he was charged in the first place.
The SPCA says the horses have started to gain weight at the two Atlantic County farms where they’re temporarily being cared for at a cost of around $600 per week.
“I’d like some restitution for all the money that we’re going to spend to rehab these horses,” said Beall when asked what she wanted to happen to the owners of the horses. “I’d like them to not get anything else that they’re not going to be able to take care of.”
The SPCA hopes to find new, suitable owners for the horses. If convicted, the five people charged face thousands of dollars in fines as well as possible jail time.
If you would like to help in any way, please call the SPCA at 609-927-9059.